“The ‘Golden Age of Golf Course Architecture’ in the 1920s resulted in memorable golf courses that have stood the test of time,” notes Charlton. “Today’s golf course architects are creating courses with as much staying power as Mackenzie and Ross, but on diverse and often challenging tracts of land. That’s what makes today’s designs and designers so compelling.”
Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Bobby Weed, ASGCA: When Bobby Weed, ASGCA was asked to remodel the Lagoon Course at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., he discovered a course without the sense of identity that its sister course, the Ocean Course, had. Plus, it was situated on only 85 acres and had a much lower play rate than the Ocean Course.
Weed came up with a routing plan that took advantage of its ocean-front location and gave the course a stronger identity. He also used the relatively small acreage efficiently and even ended up with a course that plays at 6,000 yards, 300 yards longer than the original layout. Most players can complete the course in three hours, which makes it fit in with a resort that features a variety of amenities. And, the bottom line was improved as well, with the course seeing a 48 percent increase in rounds, post-renovation.
Erin Hills, Michael Hurdzan, ASGCA Past President: The rolling topography of southeastern Wisconsin provided an ideal setting for Erin Hills Golf Course, so Michael Hurdzan, ASGCA and his design colleague Dana Fry, ASGCA were determined to route a layout that preserved the natural surroundings. They met that objective, creating a golf course that features superior drainage and is particularly sensitive to the environment.
Hurdzan and the rest of the design team had the unusual situation of having nearly perfect landforms for a golf course; they took advantage of what they were offered by creating hundreds of routings on paper and on-site that resulted in a course that wasn’t so much “built” as it was just “laid” on the land.
Langley Air Force Base Golf Course, Lester George, ASGCA Associate: Hurricane Isobel left the golf course at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia completely submerged under salt water, with 30 of its 36 holes damaged by the flood surge and between 1000 and 2000 trees downed. The Air Force provided “damage repair” funds, but stipulated that the course retain its original routing. An added challenge, literally unearthed during renovation, was the discovery of thousands of bombshells that had been dropped on the land during target practice in the mid-20th century.
Lester George, ASGCA Associate focused on returning the course to playable conditions, improving playability, removing the hazardous buried bombs and addressing the drainage issues that existed on land that lies only 5 – 10 feet above sea level—all while staying on budget. After the multi-year project was finished, the course opened with better drainage, more interesting and strategic use of bunkers and a more efficient irrigation system.
Bear Lakes Country Club, Chris Cochran, ASGCA: Nicklaus Design originally designed the Lakes and Links courses at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. in the 1980s. When Chris Cochran, Senior Design Associate at Nicklaus Design, was brought in to renovate the layouts 20 years later, he had a number of challenges.
For the Lakes course, he needed to reduce the cost of maintenance, improve drainage, reduce the amount of irrigated turf, improve landscaping, make the course play longer and change the design to a more parkland-style layout. The Links course needed some “zip and pizzazz,” shaping that was more “authentic,” a faster and firmer course with less Bermuda grass and larger links-style greens. Cochran was able to complete the renovation, keeping in mind the Nicklaus edict to “work easily with the land and keep the course affordable to maintain.”
Founded in 1946 by 14 leading architects, the American Society of Golf Course Architects is a non-profit organization comprised of experienced golf course designers located throughout the United States and Canada. Members have completed a rigorous two-year long application process that includes the peer review of four representative golf courses. ASGCA members are experienced golf course architects, able to counsel in all aspects of golf course design and remodeling.
Aileen Smith, CAE
American Society of Golf Course Architects
125 N. Executive Dr., Suite 106
Brookfield, WI 53005
phone: (262) 786-5960, fax: (262) 786-5919